Gauri Shinde: I force Balki to read everything I write

Updated: Nov 21, 2016, 15:27 IST | Mohar Basu |

Gauri Shinde discusses the creative relationship she shares with her husband Balki and her next 'Dear Zindagi'

R Balki and Gauri Shinde
R Balki and Gauri Shinde

Gauri Shinde's big screen debut marked the comeback of one of Bollywood's most loved actresses, Sridevi, who essayed the role of a homemaker attempting to rebuild a broken identity through an alien language she decides to learn. 'English Vinglish' (2012) was a runaway success, and instantly brought Gauri into the same league as her successful director husband, R Balki.

Despite the overwhelming welcome into Bollywood, she has taken four years to release her second project, 'Dear Zindagi'. The Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt starrer will hit screens next week. "I cannot get myself to startwork on a movie until my husband likes it," says the filmmaker when we meet her at her Bandra office. "I force Balki to read everything I write. It is a writer's insecurity, and his opinions matter. He may get irritated with my narrations, but he patiently sits and hears me mumble with excitement," she smiles.

Shah Rukh Khan
Shah Rukh Khan

Gauri is two films old, but she's aware there is a lot riding on her. The success of a realistic debut means seasoned stalwarts are watching her every move. That she juggles home, ad films and the movies is hard, she is honest to admit. "It is not that co-directors make it difficult. It's just that a male-dominated template defines the industry, and the country in general. This profession is also physically challenging, and that's something we tend to associate with men."

One of India's most successful advertising professionals (she's behind the Tanishq remarriage ad that got the Internet talking) admits that navigating the gender-bias is not any easier for an independent woman like her. "Men are still unaccustomed to dealing with a woman who holds her ground. They fancy politically correct ladies who bumble their way through life." The disparity, she says, carries over on set too. "If a male director abuses on set, he's called passionate. If a woman is tough, she is termed 'difficult'." But Gauri admits her obsession with perfection might come across as irritating. "I need to be okay with every detail, even the colour of the nail polish (of an actor). I don't care about how I come across as long we end up making a movie worth watching."

'Dear Zindagi', which Gauri calls "a happy surrender to life," doesn't have her in knots. Her actors, Alia and Shah Rukh, are pivots of the film. "Alia caught the nerve of the film in the first narration. She is real with her portrayal, and often reminds me of Sridevi." In SRK, she finds the perfect blend of sex appeal and affection. "He is a sum total of wit, smarts and depth. He is charming because of the way he owns the story. I could have made the movie without him, but I wouldn't be half as happy. Even with all his experience, he makes suggestions gently, without being overbearing."

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